Through the holiday period people eat more than they usually do at any other time of year. This period of time is sometimes nicknamed the “season of gluttony,” where even the most health and weight-conscious individuals forget about the stress of watching what they eat and dig into whatever happens to be on the table at the time. For some, avoiding the stress and anxiety that comes with turning down food during this season can sometimes lead to a day, or days, of overeating.
A little indulgence during this relatively short amount of time isn’t going to have any harmful side effects on the body, is it? Well, medical science may have something to say about that assumption. For most, the worst things that can happen are things like indigestion, a hang-over (for those among you who drink), and the need to get looser-fitting clothing. However, science says that there may be more drastic side effects than that, some of which may appear immediately, while others may manifest later on.
The immediate effects usually come in the form of flatulence and bouts of indigestion that vary in terms of intensity. Putting on a few extra pounds after a couple of meals is perfectly understandable and, for some people, even expected. Other, more dangerous side effects can appear, however. For example, it is quite possible for someone to experience nausea and drowsiness while driving home after a particularly big Christmas dinner. Pain in the gallbladder and a mild dulling of alertness and reflexes can also come because of massive meals. However, these are just preliminary things that people have to worry about.
The higher the quantity that was eaten and the more fat content it had, the longer it takes for the meal to actually finish being dissolved by stomach acids. This causes an extra load to be placed on the body, forcing the circulatory system to pump more blood into the digestive system to keep up with the load. This deprives over areas of the body of their regular supply of blood and nutrients, which results in things like nausea and drowsiness. For the average system, this is not a major problem, but for people with already strained cardiovascular systems, this can result in things like heart attacks and higher blood pressure levels.
The ability of the human mind to ignore things like being full is an evolutionary mechanism that allows humans to stock up on body fat in times of plenty. This, in theory, allows people to have a larger energy reserve when food is scarce. The body and mind do place limits on things like these, but during the Holiday season, most people are able to ignore this impulse in favor of eating more food. People find it much harder to turn down food during the Holidays, especially if they’re not participating in the usual family conversations that happen during these times. However, reducing the amount of food eaten can be critical in avoiding a number of complications that may arise from overeating during the season.
You don’t have to deprive yourself of all those holiday goodies and you certainly shouldn’t get stuck in guilt if you’ve eaten too much. Feeling guilty only makes things worse and may lead you to totally abandon your diet and make haphazard decisions to resume weight loss plans. Simply practice moderation.
Dietitians recommend that instead of drinking alcohol and other high-calorie drinks, try to enjoy big meals with lots of water. Water, after all, is the oil that keeps the engine that is our body working. Help yourself with a reasonable portion of meat, vegetables without the high-calorie sauces, and a few small bites of desserts. Carefully choose what food to eat. Eat leisurely, and savour the holiday goodness. After which, try taking a short walk to aid digestion and burn a few calories – every little helps.
Overeaten and need a little inspiration to get moving again?
Eat well, drink water and remember… MOVE!